IUCN threat status:

Data Deficient (DD)

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Brief Summary

The bobtail squid, (Euprymna scolopes) is a small cephalopod that lives in the shallow water off the coast of several of the Hawaiian Islands.  The bobtail squid averages 3 cm in length when fully grown (McFall-Ngai, 2008) and its skin is patterned with stripes, blushes, and spots.  The squid’s general tone color varies from light tan to dark chocolate and its skin produces a sticky adhesive (Moynihan, 1983).  This small carnivore eats tiny fish, shrimp and worms in the water at night, but buries itself in the sand during the day (Moynihan, 1983, Gillis, 1993).  The bobtail squid has formed a symbiotic relationship with Vibrio fischeri, a bioluminescent bacterium which colonizes a special light organ in the squid’s mantle (McFall-Ngai, 2008).  This small creature uses the light produced by V. fischeri to camouflage from its prey and from predators such as eels, lizard fish (Gillis, 1993) or crabs swimming in the water column (Anderson and Mather, 1996).  At dawn, the squid expels 95% of the bacteria from its light organ into the surrounding environment, providing newly hatched juveniles with symbionts and preventing the colony in the host from overpopulating.  


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Nathaniel Glassy, Expo E-42c: Writing in the Sciences, Harvard University Extension School

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